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Congratulations! If you’ve been invited for an admissions interview, then you’ve already passed the first hurdle in moving toward admission. You’re not in yet, but you’re in the running.

Your interviewer may be a Chicago Booth graduate who understands exactly what you’re going through. Sometimes your interviewer will be a member of the admissions team, as friendly a set of education professionals as you could hope to meet. As someone who has conducted many admissions interviews, I’d like to offer the following helpful hints and strategies from across the table.

Helpful Hint #1: Relax. 

The interview may seem a little scary—it may be your first meeting with a Chicago Booth representative, and it can feel a little like you’ve been called into the principal’s office. Relax. There’s nothing tricky or sneaky about the admissions interview. You won’t be asked to invent a new theory of economics while standing on one foot. The whole point of the interview is to continue the process of getting acquainted and help both you and Chicago Booth determine if you are a good fit for one another.

Relaxing, of course, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the interview seriously. It is an important stage of the admissions process. It’s worthy of your attention and respect, but there’s no reason to find it terrifying.

Helpful Hint #2: Do some prep.

All of the following should be things you’re already clear about, but it helps to get your thoughts in order in advance: Where are you in your career, and where are you heading? Why is an MBA the right choice for you at this point? Why is the Chicago Booth Executive MBA Program the right choice for your MBA? What are you bringing to the party? 

Do these questions sound familiar? They should. They’re essentially the questions you addressed in your admissions essay. So, here’s another opportunity to persuasively make the case for why the Executive MBA Program is the right program for you and why you are the right person for Booth.

Helpful Hint #3: Get familiar with the Chicago Booth Executive MBA Program.

The conversation will be more useful and more informative if you come with a basic understanding of how the Executive MBA Program is structured and what it aims to accomplish. If you’re reading this blog entry, you have already discovered that the Booth website is a wonderful resource and a font of useful information. Do some further rummaging around and get reasonably conversant with how EMBA works. (No need to memorize the curriculum in detail or learn the names of all the faculty members!)

Helpful Hint #4: Resist the impulse to ramble.

As you answer your interviewer’s questions, tell your story, but try to keep it concise. The other side of being a little nervous about an interview is not knowing when to stop. Being brief and to the point provides the opportunity for the interviewer to ask better questions and for you to provide better, more focused answers in the time available.

Helpful Hint #5: Come armed with some good questions.

You probably have plenty of questions, and this is your chance to pick the brains of a person who has been on the inside. It doesn’t hurt to jot your questions down in advance, so the ones you care about don’t get lost in the heat of the moment. Your interviewer will make time to address your questions, but don’t be bashful about diving in. This is another opportunity to demonstrate that you’ve done deep thinking about the program.

Helpful Hint #6: Don’t be shy about following up.

It always seems to happen: as soon as the conversation is over, another wonderful, insightful observation or question pops into your mind. You’ll have your interviewer’s contact details. If something more should be said or asked, get in touch with your interviewer sooner rather than later. You won’t be imposing. And, of course, a follow-up “thank you” note never hurts.

Believe it or not, once the interview is complete, most applicants think it was an interesting and enjoyable experience. I hope you feel that way, too.

Rick Weiland

Blog Author

Rick Weiland graduated from the Executive MBA Program in 1980. He also holds a BS from the University of Michigan (math and communication science) and an MS from UChicago (information sciences). He spent his career in a variety of technical, managerial, and executive roles, mostly at a software consultancy that transformed into a starter of new technology businesses, including two that ended up traded on the NYSE. Now retired for 10-plus years, Rick volunteers at Chicago Booth and the Art Institute of Chicago, attends guitar classes at the Old Town School, and travels for fun both domestically and abroad.

Rick Weiland